tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN January 19, 2018 4:59pm-7:00pm EST
experience there with senator heller. i was happy to host them because i think seeing it is worth 1,000 words. and hopefully they enjoyed the experience and learned something from it as well. but the u.s.-texas -- i mean, the texas-mexico border is about 2,000 miles long. what the border patrol has told she they need various tools to be able to secure the border. they need infrastructure like the secure fence act that vietnamed on in 2006 -- that we voted on in 2006. then who have senator obama voted in favor of this secure fence act. some people called it a wall. some people call it a fence. some people call it tactical infrastructure. whatever you call it, a barrier, it is an essential component of border security at some parts of the border. but it's only part of the system.
the system needs to include technology, whether it is unmanned ariel vehicles, ground sensors, aerostats that we saw high in the sky to try to protect our country against transnational criminal organizations that exploit our porous border to import poison for our people, drugs, illegal drugs, that traffic in children or sex or other illicit purposes, or import their gang members into the united states only to wreak havoc on the communities here in the united states. and you know the object of most of the mayhem associated with that porous border are the immigrant communities in the united states. people act as if there's no negative downside to this porous border and illegal immigration. but i will tell you that
frequently the devastation that's wreaked on americans, people living here in the united states is in immigrant communities where these folks do most of their harm. so we are working very hard to try to come up with a solution here. it's frankly insulting that the democratic leader would try to jam this through and hold hostage all these other very important programs when we're working in good faith to try to meet that march 5 deadline. i have every confidence we will. every confidence we will. but it's little more complicat complicated. the border that is. one of the things that secretary nielsen, the secretary of the department of homeland security, has pointed out is that because of a provision of u.s. law, if you immigrate illegally into the united states from mexico, for example, the boarder patrol can
offer you the opportunity to return back rather than process you for illegal immigration and later deport you. but not if you come from a no noncontiguous country like central america, guatemala, el salvador, for example, honduras. so what we've seen is thousands of people coming across our southern border exploiting that loophole in our law. let me give you one example. i asked secretary nielsen the other day. i said, if there's a 17-year-old man, you may call him a boy but no all practical purposes he is a man but he's not yet reached 18, and you know from his tatt tattoos -- frequently that's how gang members are identified by the border patrol and law enforcement official, from the tattoos that they bear -- that
you know that they're a member of the ms-13 gang, one of the most violent gangs emanating from central america, actually los angeles as well but many of them have migrated back to central america. and many of them prey on children back there but come up here as part of the drug distribution network into the united states. if you know this is a member of ms-13 but they are 17 years old, is there anything you can do under existing law to bar them from the country? she said no. under the law they're required to process that person because he is a minor technically, even though he's a man for all practical purposes. and then health and human services must then place him with a sponsor in the united
states. might be a relative. doesn't have to be a relative. the previous administration didn't even vet those sponsors adequately. we don't know how many children who were placed with those sponsors may have been preyed upon, trafficked, recruited as gang members or otherwise abus abused. but this young man, 17 years old, member of ms-13 would then be placed with a sponsor in the united states and be told if he had claimed asylum, to come back in a couple of years for your court hearing before an immigration judge. senator lankford, i believe, stated that hundreds of thousands of people are backlogged for hearings before immigration judges. we need more immigration judges. but in the process, they're told to show back up for a court hearing years in the future and only about 10% show up. 10% show up.
i used to say this was sort of an intelligence test. tongue in cheek. if you showed up, you flunked the intelligence test because what most people do is they exploit that vulnerability to simply melt into the great american landscape and become a danger, frankly, to the communities where they -- that they ultimately settle in. so this is serious business. my constituents in texas, all 28 million of them, they want a compassionate solution for these daca recipients. i mentioned there are 124,000 of them that signed up and there are others that were eligible who did not sign up because they're afraid of the government. they come from places where the government is their oppressor frequently so they have a hard time trusting government even when the government is trying to help them in the united states. but my constituents want a solution but they are sick and
tired of the federal government failing to do its job on the border. an international border is by definition a federal responsibility, but the taxpayers in texas are required to pick up the tab when the federal government doesn't live up to its responsibilities. and that's been the status quo for as long as i can remember. and it's, frankly, galling to hear politicians here in washington say well, we need to do something to help immigrants, and i'm happy to do it as the occasion -- as the occasion rises where it's appropriate, particularly like the daca recipients. others i think need to be deported as soon as we can because frankly they're a danger to the rest of the law abiding -- law-abiding communities here in the country. but it's frustrating to hear people just talk about that one -- one of those two pillars that i mentioned earlier.
they say yeah, we're a nation of immigrants. we should welcome immigrants, but they don't want to do anything about our porous borders. they could care less about making sure we have enough border security to protect us from the drugs, the traffickers, and the violence that finds its way into communities all across our country. so here's the problem. funding for the federal government expires at midnight tonight. and a partial government shutdown will occur if we don't pass a continuing resolution. our colleagues in the house did their job. they passed a continuing resolution to keep the government up and running til february 16. now, i really had a hard time believing what i heard my friend senator schumer say last night. he said we need to kill this continuing resolution because we need to pass another continuing resolution because continuing resolutions are bad for the
military. well, he lost me on that argument. because it makes no sense. it is true that continuing resolutions are bad for the military. that's why we need to get back into a regular appropriation process, but does he think a shutdown is good for the military? you think a shutdown is good for the nine million children who depend on the children's health insurance program. i think hiez priorities are -- i think his priorities are completely out of whack. in my home state, to take one example, the army medical command said that 2,539 civilian employees at joint base san antonio will be subject to furlough, representing $188 million in salaries. 12,000 texas guardsmen won't be able to drill either. i'm aware of the presiding
officer's distinguished service in the guard. she knows what i'm talking about. they won't be able to train. they won't be able to prepare for deemployments to save -- to protect the homeland. and, of course, they won't get paid. it's estimated that 200,000 texans will be furloughed with a government shutdown. so it's not just the folks who live in the d.c. area here in washington, virginia, and maryland where we have a lot of government employees. people across the country will be negatively affected, too. our democratic colleagues to hold the military funding and children's health insurance hostage is a complete and shameless reversal of what they claimed in the past. complete and shameless reversal. in 2013 the senior senator from illinois said that a shutdown is, quote, no way to run a country, close quote. he decried what he called
political brinksmanship saying we need to stop manufacturing one crisis after the next. well, i wish he and his colleagues would look in the mirror and listen to their own previous comments. america needs them to. the truth is, as the senate majority leader has said, our friends on the other side of the aisle do not oppose a single thing in the bill that the house passed yesterday. they don't oppose anything in the bill. the senate majority leader is right that this should be an easy yes vote for every senator in the chamber. the bill continues government funding, prevents a needless shutdown, and as i said, extends a key health insurance program for vulnerable children. how in the heck did we get here? how did the democrats decide that no was the right answer.
well, we worked hard last month and this month to determine long spending caps that would bring stability caps back to government funding. one of the biggest issues was to try to make sure we funded our military in a way that helped them prepare and get ready to fight our nation's wars or better yet, to prevent future wars by demonstrating the kind of strength and leadership that people have come to expect if the united states military. but our democratic leadership made it clear they would stall a final agreement on those spending caps til this unrelated issue of deferred action for childhood arrivals we've been talking about, daca, which doesn't expire til march 5 and they were going to hold all the rest of that hostage until it was resolved. they made it clear they were willing to shut down vital programs for the rest of the country because we haven't agreed on how to resolve that issue. but we're working hard on it. i had another meeting here today
on that. i've actually had three meetings today on that topic. and we're going to get it done before the deadline. and while that issue is important and affects roughly 690,000 people, our country is made up of over 320 million people. people who pay taxes, people expect the federal government to work for them. they sure don't expect to be not paid or laid off or furloughed if you're a government employee. if you're a citizen expecting the government to provide some service but because the bills aren't being paid because democrats have shutdown the government, you're being denied access to the services that you have a right to expect, too. our democratic colleagues are engaged in a dangerous game of chicken. they could well crash the government just to appease extreme elements in their party.
and all of it, every bit of it, is absolutely unnecessary. let's call this what it is. our colleagues playing favorites and turning their backs on military families and the security needs of the american people. i think after they've had a good night's sleep last night, they probably woke up this morning think, what have we done, how do we get out of this? that's why i know the president called senator schumer, the democratic leader, over to the white house earlier today. the report i got was senator schumer said let's have another short-term continuing resolution maybe til next tuesday. well, that wouldn't solve anything. that would make none of this better. it would just continue the chaos and leave all the things we need to settle unsettled. well, the president did the right thing. he told him look, you go back and you talk to the speaker and
the senate majority leader, and you guys work that out. this is what you're getting paid for. get her done. that's good advice. but the threat of a shutdown by the democratic leader and his colleagues ignores the overwhelming majority of this country that they suddenly feel are not as important as the few that they're focused on, the daca recipients. all senate finance committee democrats voted for a five-year schip expansion -- extension in october. so they've now actually voted against or threatening to vote against a program that senate democrats on the finance committee voted for. i guess in the immortal words of john kerry they were for it before they were against it. have they forgotten that if democrats shut down the
government, nearly nine million kids could lose their chip coverage? and why? because we haven't yet been able to come up with an agreement on something, an immigration issue. but our deadline isn't until march. not today, not yesterday. it's march 5. we expect to get it done earlier. have they forgotten the 78% of defense workers that could be furloughed? laid off. active duty troops as well as guard and reserve members would not get paid. in virginia, there's some 178,000 federal workers. in maryland there are over 145,000. i hope they're on the phone calling their senators and their congress people. those are two states that are both represented by members prepared to shut down the government tonight. in texas, as i said, there are
some 200,000 federal employees, and all of them will be affected. and everybody else who depends on them to protect our state and our communities or to provide services that benefit everybody else, they're going to be negatively impacted too. paychecks could cease. services will be disrupted all because of an unrelated immigration issue that won't get resolved if the government shuts down. that's what's so maddening. shutting down the government won't solve that problem. i think they're out over their skis and they're trying to figure out how do we get this thing back and save face in the process. they're realizing that this is a very bad judgment call and that their action was entirely disproportionate to resolving the issue they want to resolve, and one that we're determined to
resolve with them in due course. let's recall that the 2013 shutdown resulted in the furlough of 850,000 employees and billions of dollars of lost economic productivity. so when the senior senator from california said yesterday that the results of a shutdown are extremely dire, she wasn't being hyperbolic. she wasn't exaggerating when she talked about the big risks that lie ahead if we don't act. well, i pray that she and her democratic colleagues stop stalling, stop playing favorites, and stop daring us to engage in a game of chicken. i'll say it again one last time, madam president. we have been negotiating in good
faith on a solution for the daca recipients, and we will continue to do so. but shutting down the government will not solve that problem, and millions of people, including our military, law enforcement, and emergency personnel could lose their paycheck if democrats follow through on their threat. so the time to stop playing games is now, and we urge them -- no, we implore them, do not shut down the government. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. boozman: madam president,
i rise today to express my support and highlight the importance of reauthorizing the children's health insurance program, chip. it expired in september causing great concern and worry for families and providers who depend on this program to care for our nation's neediest programs. many states have been operating on reserve funds which will soon run out. it's time we provide the program with the necessary funding to take care of america's children. i know arkansas families who rely on the program to provide medical care for their children are pleased with the inclusion of a six-year reauthorization for chip included in the legislation before this chamber. this would mark the longest extension for the program since its interception. i want to thank chairman hatch, the original author of chip, for his dedication to the health of our nation's children and his bipartisan effort with ranking member wyden that's brought a five-year chip reauthorization
out of the senate finance committee last fall. approximately 50,000 children in arkansas and nearly nine million low-income children nationwide receive health care through chip. currently these children, their families and providers are living in a cloud of anxious uncertainty. take, for instance, this story of a young arkansan. in little rock, a precious little girl marks the milestone of turning eight months old tomorrow in the care of arkansas' children's hospital fighting an infection. she's been in the pediatric intensive care unit and other floors there since the day she turned two months old. her mother and her four our children spends every hour she can at her daughter's bedside. every one of those hours and an hour spent away from the baby's brothers and sisters, two and a half hours away in fort smith. again, she has other children
she's trying to take care of at the present time also. in addition to her medical condition, her mother's worried because her daughter's care is covered by chip. as much as she looks forward to bringing her daughter home, this mother knows that even though supplies she needs to make that happen, tubes, medicine, fluids -- all of those are at risk without that coverage. this story highlights the reality so many families are currently facing. failing to reauthorize this important program would have real direct and serious consequences. we must work to ensure these families need not worry every year, whereas of now months regarding continued access to benefits for the health and well-being of their children. we must commit to passing this
extension to provide these families peace of mind and stability. because arkansans recognize how important this program is, my office has received significant amounts of inquiries on the issue. our response has always been the same. everyone in congress is working in good faith to find a solution, at least it seemed that way until a few days ago. i would have supported a five-year reauthorization like the one my colleagues on the other side of the aisle were pushing for, and guess what? we did even better with a six-year reauthorization attached to the current c.r. now those same members who have been asking for a five-year reauthorization just days ago are refusing to support the longest extension of the program since its inception. this is not negotiating in good faith. that is not being part of the solution.
that's being part of the problem. additionally, i continue to be frustrated by this unfortunate new normal of continuing resolutions and stopgap measures to fund the government year after year. the idea of willingly facilitating a government shutdown is reckless. but unfortunately, it appears that some of my colleagues prefer stalemate over robust debate. we need to keep the government open and solve our differences through regular order, understanding and compromise. governing by hostage and crisis does not fulfill our moral constitutional -- our moral and our constitutional duties to the american people. we must not lose sight of our shared goals and purpose or the impact our decisions here have. we must aim to use the power of our offices for good, supporting children's health care and passing this continuing resolution is certainly a
component of that goal. i hope my colleagues remember the story that i shared today and the stories i know that they've heard from their constituents, and vote in favor of children's health. i yield the floor. mr. daines: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. daines: midnight's approaching. and a government shutdown is looming in front of us. i'd say, as we can tell in this city, there's not a lot of things that senators will agree on, but i think there's one thing that just about every senator i spoke with does agree on, and that is we have a budgeting and spending process that is broken.
in fact, the first bill i introduced in congress was a bill that simply said if members of congress can't pass a balanced budget, they shouldn't get paid. nobody here likes to see c.r. after c.r. c.r. stands for continuing resolution. think about it. we have a government that starts its fiscal year every year on october 1. i spent 28 years in the private sector, 13 of those years with procter & gamble, a fortune 25 company. i spent time in a small family business. i spent time as part of a cloud computing start-up that we grew over 1,000 jobs, took the company public. so i've had a lot of experience in budgets, managing spending, ensuring that you actually take in more money than you spend
because that's called profit in a business. but here in washington, d.c., we are now october, november, december, in the middle of january, we're three and a half months into the fiscal year without having nailed down the spending plan. it's broken. that needs to be reformed. and on a more optimistic note, there's a group of republican and democrat senators who are having discussions about how to change the way the budgeting spending works here in washington, d.c. to have a better outcome for the american people. but here we are at this moment, just hours away from a looming government shutdown. and so whether we're in business
or dealing with issues in personal life, we have a choice to make right here in front of us. a choice that we have to make in less than seven hours. we can either keep the federal government open and fund health insurance for 24,000 montana children. that's about nine million american children. the idea was let's put something in play that ought to be agreeable to both sides. something pretty clean. not a tax with a -- not attacks with a political, divisive issues. we're going to extend the funding of the government, avoid a government shutdown, and let's permanently reauthorize for six years the children's health insurance program, very popular with the american people.
either we do that or we shut the government down. but here's where we're at. there will be a lot of folks spinning a lot of different messages but let me try to articulate exactly where we're at in as simple terms as possible. the house has passed an agreement to keep the lights on and to fund children's health insurance. they passed it. the president has said he will sign that agreement to keep the lights on and to fund children's health insurance. so the house has passed it. the president says he'll sign it. so now it's up to this body. will we get 60 senators? it will take republicans and democrats because there's only 51 republican senators, and the rules of the senate require 60. will we get 60 senators, a good
bipartisan vote, to keep the lights on and fund children's health insurance? that's the question. and we've got less than seven hours to figure that out. i implore my democratic colleagues not to follow their leader who insists that daca and illegal immigration gets fixed today, in the next seven hours. we all know illegal immigration is a very important issue for our nation. it has to be addressed. we must secure our borders and we must resolve this issue. but let's keep it all in perspective. in my home state of montana, there are less than 100 daca residents versus one million
montanans who would be hurt by a government shutdown. like men and women who wear the uniform. said another way, the choices between 100 daca recipients -- less than 100 in montana -- or the 24,000 children who depend on the children's health insurance program. and don't let these issues get confused by smoke and mirrors. that is the fundamental issue right now that chuck schumer and the leader of our friends across the aisle are talking about shutting down the government over. the right thing to do here is to vote yes today. let's continue to fund the government while we work to address these issues related to
illegal immigration and border security. senator lankford was down here earlier. there are good bipartisan discussions going on as we speak. these are difficult issues to get sorted out. they're divisive issues. but i think there is a path forward. but to say it has to get solved tonight and shut down the government to me is the wrong position to take. a shutdown means no long-term certainty for montanan children. a shutdown hurts our military. a shutdown hurts our veterans. hey, i don't like another c.r., i would rather not have another c.r., but guess what? you get paid to come down here and make a choice. sometimes it's between two
options. neither one are very appealing. i don't like the idea of having another c.r. it's yet an example of a broken budgeting process. but the choice is either we buy some more time to resolve these issues of illegal immigration, or we shut down the government, harming our military, our veterans, our seniors in compromising our national security. a government shutdown, i believe, is a mistake.
a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: thank you, i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: we are not in a quorum call. you are recognized. mr. casey: thank you. i ask consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection.
mr. casey: thank you. madam president, i rise tonight to talk about some of the issues we're facing tonight as we approach a deadline tonight. i really wanted to start with one observation about where we are and where we could be in the next couple of days. some of the debate is focused on simply what could happen at midnight were there to be a shutdown of the federal government, but there is another alternative, of course, and that's -- well, two, really. either to have an agreement that would carry forward before the deadline. that's, in my judgment, less likely to happen. i don't think anyone believes that will happen, necessarily. but the other option, of course, is to have a number of days ahead of us, an agreed upon three days, four days, whatever the leadership and the two sides can agree to to continue
negotiations, because of course we have a range of issues. sometimes we haven't talked enough about the long list of issues. i will get into a few tonight. but there is a rather long list of issues, some of which have already been the subject of bipartisan, not just consensus but a bipartisan piece of legislation, actual bill text that has been introduced or could be introduced in short order in the next few days or even the next couple of hours. then there are other issues that have been ongoing negotiations for a long period of time, haven't yet reached consensus, but if we all give ourselves a deadline and stay here -- and i hope that people in both parties would stay for the next few days, no matter what happens tonight, because if there is an extension of three or four days, that doesn't make it any less challenging because that just means there will be a deadline
that will be a short-term deadline. i don't think it makes any sense to go another month because things will be kicked -- the can in essence will be kicked down the road again. we need to make some decisions about some big issues. there are some who have observed that even if you were in favor of the measure that came over from the house last night, which i have a real trouble with, a lot of gaping holes in that proposal, a lot of urgent matters for many americans that have not been addressed in that proposal, but even if you favor that, you could also still hold the position you don't favor continuing resolution after continuing resolution. i guess we're on our fourth, if we have the right count, our fourth resolution since october 1, not that long ago. so that's the -- at least my sense of where we could be in the next couple of days.
not leaving washington and staying at the negotiation table on a range of issues. that's the reasonable thing to do, not only to keep the government operating and open but also to finally resolve some major issues which i think both parties -- most of both parties want to solve. but let me start tonight with some -- some personal observations -- or i should say personal letters. one of the major issues which is not resolved, there is a lot of effort made that has been bipartisan, that is the issue of pensions. i have gotten letters from a lot of pennsylvanians who say look, it's -- it's up to you and up to the people in both parties to solve this pension crisis that has engulfed so many families. in pennsylvania, the categories of people affected, retirees and
their families, you're talking about at least, at least 35,000 people, 35,000 families, i should say. usually because you have a retiree and the largest share of those are coal miners in pennsylvania. i'm sure it's true in other states as well. so i got a letter from a woman in washington county, pennsylvania, right in the southwestern corner of our state. she wrote to me -- and i won't read the whole letter, but she said talking about her husband, who is a retired miner, she said, and i quote, he worked for many years in the coal mines and has endured dangerous conditions, unsafe work hazards, and a mine fire which he narrowly -- which he narrowly escaped, and the mine closed, forcing him to lose his job. she concludes the letter by saying this pension is so important to him and to us, and
she goes on from there. so that's one person talking about her husband doing the most dangerous work imaginable. i'm not sure there is a more dangerous job in the world than coal mining. and i know of what i speak because of the corner of pennsylvania i'm from, the an tara site coal -- anthracite coal region. here is another letter from the same corner of the state, southwestern pennsylvania. in this case, in particular talking about the pension legislation which is before the senate right now, the so-called butch lewis act. here's what -- here's what this man says about his family. he said we gave up -- talking about the way he earned a pension. he said we gave up pay raises to get a meager pension, and as we get older, we can't start over. please pass the butch lewis act.
a third letter, also from southwestern pennsylvania -- in this case, from westmoreland county, just to the east of pittsburgh, one county over from where pittsburgh is. this individual talks about the pension that he receives. he says i am facing pension cuts that would have an immediate and devastating impact on my family. and he goes on from there. we have even more letters. a letter from the same corner of the state. in the most southwestern corner, right next to greene county, right on the -- depending on which side you're looking at, the ohio or the west virginia border. this individual said to me in the letter there are so many
retired miners, widows, and families that rely upon those benefits each month, including my mother and me. she is a widow, and i have cerebral palsy, and we depend on my dad's pension to survive on the limited income. so whether it's the miner speaking about the pension that they earned and their hope, their expectation, which is a reasonable expectation that the promise made in that pension would be fulfilled, or it's from the perspective of a son or a daughter or a wife or even, unfortunately in many cases, a widow talking about a miner who had passed away. here's another letter from southwestern pennsylvania talking about that word i just used, promise. quote -- this pension, quote, was a promise made by the government. we kept ours. now we hope that you will
continue to keep the promise. keep the promise. all in capital letters by this individual. this man says he is 73 years old, and he says if i were to -- if i were to lose my pension, my wife and i would be forced to live in poverty. here's another letter, another pension letter. this is not from a coal miner but from a retired truck driver. another group of americans affected when the united states senate doesn't get pension legislation done like we can do in the next couple of days. he said, quote, i'm a retired truck driver. spent 25 years of my life in this occupation. and asking me as his representative, as his senator, you can do whatever you can to preserve that pension for my wife and me. another letter from the
northeastern corner of pennsylvania, not far from where i live, talking about the same act, the butch lewis act, says -- in this case, talking about his father, my father for over 25 years was paying into a pension. he was a dock worker physically khroegd trucks by hand. he did this to provide for my family and to ensure we had medical coverage and also a pension. then talks about a pension he was told, his dad was told at one point the pension was wiped out. everything he had worked for was taken away. he worked hard for 25 years. nights, weekends, double shifts sometimes, on and on and on. well, i heard from the majority leader last night that somehow these kinds of issues that are part of this larger debate were not urgent.
he said the only urgent matter is the government funding bill. i would agree that that is urgent, but i would also agree that if you're a retired coal miner or the family of a retired coal miner or a retired truck driver or you are owed a pension of any kind for all the work that you did in your life, your situation's urgent. it's not something we can put off and say, well, why don't you wait another six months. wait for a couple more c.r.'s, continuing resolutions, and we'll get to you later. the pension issue is as urgent as any other, and there's a lot of talk around here as if it isn't. it's very, very urgent. i'll give you another urgent issue. the issue of community health centers. here's a letter i received from southeastern pennsylvania, just outside of philadelphia, talking about funding for community
health centers. just like the pension issue, not addressed in the house proposal, or the house bill that passed. they don't address pensions. they don't address community health centers. and, by the way, the deadline for community health centers, just like children's health, was way back in october, october 1. i'm glad that some republicans are finally, finally after more than 100 days, starting to clue in a little bit to children's health insurance. they're talking about it. it's great that they're finally talking about children's health insurance which they haven't talked about much since they let the deadline expire months ago. the majority party allowed that to happen. maybe by midnight tonight they'll start talking about community health centers that serve 800,000 people in pennsylvania. i hope they start talking about it at least. maybe we could even come together and get something done. but here's what she says about
community health centers. we serve hundreds of thousands of underserved people who deserve the quality of care we provide. they have lives filled with trauma and in turn suffer from social, physical and behavioral issues that will go untreated if funding for community health centers goes away. i guess that's not urgent. if you rely upon a community health center for your health care. it is urgent. it's every bit as urgent as anything we've talked about in the last couple of days and weeks. the house bill does nothing on that. nothing for miners' pensions. nothing for pensions. nothing on community health centers. we're supposed to just accept that and move on and have another continuing resolution when they don't even address it in their proposal. here's another letter about community health centers. talking about the patients
living in rural and underserved areas who are in areas where there is a great need for health centers. i guess it's not urgent for those folks in rural areas who depend upon these health centers. as i said, in pennsylvania, if you look at the total, rural and urban and everything in between, 800,000 people. i guess it's not urgent for them. and this house bill does nothing for those community health centers and those people who live in rural and urban areas who depend upon those health centers. but i guess we should just wait, wait another month, wait another six months, wait another year for community health centers to be funded. and the majority allowed funding for those to expire, just like they allowed funding for children's health insurance to expire. here's another letter talking about health centers. this individual says if congress
kicks this can down the road one more time, it will be a signal to health centers that we need to implement measures that will result in site closures, layoffs and reduced services. i guess it's not urgent. i guess it's not urgent, community health centers. how about, how about this program that is also not addressed in the house legislation. the maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting program. this is an evidence-based home visiting program that supports at-risk pregnant women and young families. a great program that's been in place for the last couple of years. in fiscal year 2017, funding was about $400 million. that's not addressed either. i guess that's not urgent, just like community health centers and just like pensions for
retired coal miners and truck drivers and others. none of this apparently, according to the majority, is urgent. none of this is urgent. i'll tell you what was urgent for the majority. the end of last year. november and december. an obsession with getting a tax bill passed which did pretty well for the super rich and big corporations. there is always kinds of time for that. negotiations among, between and among republicans, discussions and changes in the bill between and among republicans only for a tax bill. that was really urgent to get that tax bill rammed through. that was really urgent. so children's health insurance, that had to wait, even though in december it was already two months overdue. two months after expiration. community health centers, they had to wait as well because you had to get your republican tax bill done. all of that had to wait.
coal miners pensions, that has to wait too because you had to get the tax bill done for the rich and for corporations. how about, how about issue that received a lot of attention, the so-called daca program, the dreamers. right now we've got seven senate republicans at last count -- it might have gone higher -- seven senate republicans have joined with senate democrats on a bipartisan bill to do a lot of things but principally improve border security and help young dreamers. that's a bill that's ready to go right now. and it's urgent because people have been deported, and both parties assert that they're concerned about these dreamers. well, we could get it done right now. one republican senator said he'd get it done in half an hour. let's say he's way off. maybe in hours and certainly in a few days we could get that done as well. so there is a lot that is urgent
and there is a lot that's left on the table with this house bill that came over last night. i hope that both parties can continue to negotiate. i hope that we will heed the words that were sent out last night by the defense department. deanna w. white said we have been working under a continuing resolution for three years now, meaning the defense department. our current c.r. expires tomorrow, january 19. this is wasteful and destructive. unquote. so she hopes, and i think our military hopes that we don't keep kicking the can down the road. let's come together and get so much done for the american people that we can get done tonight, tomorrow morning, tomorrow night, sunday morning, sunday night, monday morning,
monday afternoon, monday night, tuesday. we can stay here and get a lot of this done. then we can move on to other things. we can get a major list of problems solved. not this house bill full of holes that leaves so many americans out, these coal miners out, these truck drivers out, leaves millions, by one estimate 27 million people in the country get their health care at community health centers. 800,000 in pennsylvania. we could do all that, bring the country together, and then move on to some bigger issues that we haven't addressed yet like infrastructure. fixing roads and bridges and bringing broadband to rural america. fill in the blank with whatever else you want to work on but there's a lot we can do. the president said he wanted to make infrastructure a priority. it's going to be difficult to get to that if we keep getting stuck on these three-week or two-month continuing resolutions. now i know there's been a lot of chatter today about blame games.
well, look, according to my count, there might be only one politician in the country who has spoken directly, and i think repeatedly but at least once we know of, about a government shutdown, and that happens to be the president. so i will just hold up this poster which is dated, the statement is dated may 2. quote, our country needs a good shutdown, said the president. may 2 of 2017. i hope, i hope that the majority would not agree with that, that, quote, our country needs, needs that. we need to come together and use this opportunity to do the following: fund the federal government, make sure that retirees have their pensions that they have been waiting for for a long time.
coal miners have been coming to this town for years now trying to get their health care. they were promised that in early 2017. it didn't happen because the majority made them wait. then they were promised in 2016, later in the year it would happen in the fall, when the finance committee got the coal miners health care bill done. it didn't happen in the fall. the majority made them wait. they said after the election in december of 2016 it will happen them, but the majority made them wait. so after months and months of pressing, these coal miners finally got the promise fulfilled by getting their health care in april of 2017. and at the time they said we appreciate the fact that we had the health care problem solved. now we need to work on the pensions. so the pensions for coal miners didn't start just in april of 2017. that was part of the original
bill, but we were only able to get the health care part of it done. so miners' pensions goes back much further than the early part of 2017. it goes back to 2016 and 2015 and years before that. so i would hope that before we move to bringing the sides together that we would make those pensions and those retirees a priority. i would hope we make community health centers a priority as well, as well as getting done for children what we should get done. one point about the children's health insurance program. i'm glad that my republican friends are finally talking about the program. they were rather quiet the last couple of months when they refused to bring it up on the floor. of course, everyone knows if you put a chip bill on this floor tonight, it would pass in minutes. we get an overwhelming vote. so if the majority really cares about it, they would do that
just at we've been asking for for months. but of course children weren't a priority because they had to get the tax bill done. that was the big priority. had to get that tax bill done so that the corporations would be happy with republican senators. let me just make one point about children's health. we've got to get that done as well. but the problem is that since for a lot of reasons the cost has changed a good bit. here's the reality. the chip program, according to this proposal, is limited to in time to six years. if republicans included a ten-year extension, it would actually save billions of dollars and, more importantly, would remove us from the cycle of funding crises to which we've grown accustomed. so if it is less expensive and
emproviced more certainty -- improvised more certainty, why don't we do chip for ten years. i would like to make it permanent. that would be the optimal result but why not ten years? because of a whole series of dynamics that happened over the last couple of months the cost has actually gone down. if you can get a cheaper rate, so to speak, after, for a ten-year extension, why not make it ten years? i know the freedom caucus and house republicans came up with six, but i thought they wanted to save money, and i hope they want to save money and help kids. so i would hope that we could come together on that as well. let's make it a ten-year commitment to our kids. i think the senate republicans passed a tax bill that had a corporate tax break which is permanent. permanent tax relief for big corporations. why not at least give children's
health insurance, the children who depend upon it, at least ten years. give them a decade; right. that's not a big, that's not a big sacrifice. of course it would be better if we gave them permanent certainty like the corporations got with their taxes. but at least give them ten years. now that both parties are beyond the five years, let's give them ten years, and it has the added benefit of saving billions of dollars. so we could do all this in the next number of hours and days. we can get all of this done, and then we can move forward in a bipartisan way on to other priorities, but we can't simply accept a measure from the house that is full of holes. it does nothing for retirees, it does nothing for community health centers, it does nothing for the opioid crisis.
we could easily fund more of our local communities. i hope we don't listen to this statement here that somehow this is something that is good for the country. we need to stay here and continue negotiations, and in some cases, wrap-up promising negotiations that have already reached consensus. we should stay here tonight and saturday and sunday and monday and tuesday at least, and that's not asking much to negotiate hard for four days. see what we can get done in a couple of days and then see where we are. mr. president, i would yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.